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One Amazing Thing

One Amazing Thing - May Skinny Books

This was the May Skinny Book selection and I was pushing it as far as ‘skinny’ goes, but I think once the group got the names straight, all were hooked.  The premise is a bit of a trope:  a group of strangers get stuck together for a length of time and share stories.  But the author did a fantastic job of building on that to a completely fresh take with completely fresh results: 9 people trying to procure visas to India are trapped when an earthquake rocks the building and seals them in the office. The situation is dire: a couple small injuries, no electricity, water slowly trickling in, only small snacks and a few water bottles. But to pass the time and avoid panic, they each agree to tell a story about one amazing thing.  Wow!  So the book becomes two threads you care about: what each character shares, and will they get out? - Carrie

An acclaimed novel by the author of The Mistress of Spices, and Before We Visit the Goddess. Jhumpa Lahiri praises: "One Amazing Thing collapses the walls dividing characters and cultures; what endures is a chorus of voices in one single room."

Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.

When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There's little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself. From Chitra Divakaruni, author of such finely wrought, bestselling novels as Sister of My Heart, The Palace of Illusions, and The Mistress of Spices, comes her most compelling and transporting story to date. One Amazing Thing is a passionate creation about survival -- and about the reasons to survive.

Publication Date: 
December 21, 2010